The fly in the ointment
Journey – Father: leaving the factory, money, the business man. The Irony at the end: that he cannot get rid of this, of the “dark side”. – “Tow faces”: father cannot let go of his vice / “dark side”. The cynical end of the story shows this dark revelation to the son. – Theme: Man’s struggle for survival. It is a unique and personal journey, not all struggles are the same and have the same endings. Father / Son – Description of characters. Detailed and showing their personalities, weaknesses, hopes, fears.
Good story to work on characterisation. – Relationship between them = CONFLICT – Father: the bearer of “two faces”. His son KNOWS they both co-exist. – “fly” – a metaphor which depicts the theme of the father? s lack of control of the dark side and we see how it overflows his character. – Father’s projection of his frustration on his son but calling him “professor” ironically and by constantly referring to his son? s receding hair (and teeth? ) = physical weaknesses that the son has but, up against his father, is more stable in personality.
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Money – Father’s dependence on it and the son’s awareness of this – Cynical end: “Old habits die hard. ” Symbols – 1) set in the month of November, at the “dead hour”, in the Fall 2) the fly 3) the “silver-topped pencil” 4) the factory (the contrast between the outside and inside) 5) the “bars” on the “frosted windows” 6) the “harvest moon came down from it rosy voyage” = the fact that his father was trying to convince himself that he could change suddenly ended when his son mentioned the fact that he might be able to raise some “cash”
FLY IN THE OINTMENT = meaning of the title 1) One cannot control one’s life like the father cannot kill the fly 2) The father cannot control “the little face” (the “dark side”) 3) The fly represents and shows the existence of an aspect of the self that is in denial and cannot change 4) Trying to kill the fly = trying to control his lust for money. By failing, the father is “ruining the ointment” and ruining his own life, his business.